Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Orange Spider Wasp

Last weekend Kirsten and I found this Orange Spider Wasp (Cryptocheilus bicolor) near Medway. It was a very large, and very busy wasp.

In the two minutes we watched it, the wasp was digging a new hole in the soft sand. It was a process of diving down into the hole; backing out (presumably bringing parcels of sand with it); then diving down the hole again.
Note the older burrow to the right (light coloured sand).
Presumably there is a nest there too.
There are two Orchid leaves just to the left of the burrow.
Only once in those two minutes did the wasp emerge completely from the hole, to walk around a little then resumed its tunnel digging.

She did not have a Spider with her, so presumably she was "planning ahead". But there was great urgency in her activity. so perhaps she had "found" a spider, and was rushing to prepare a burrow, prior to paralysing her prospective prey.I have observed these Wasps with prey in tow, previously, and I know that there is nothing which will distract the Wasp, once she has a Spider to drag to the nest.

Several years ago, at my house, I watched one drag a full-sized Huntsman more than 50 metres, through shrubbery, down a wooden post (from my deck to ground-level); then over rocks, before I lost track of her, in a dense Blackberry shrub.

Here is my old photo of that encounter.
5 March 2008 - at my house.
This Wasp has paralysed the Huntsman Spider (which is several times its own body weight, and with very large leg span). It looks like the Spider is rearing up to strike. In fact it is quite the opposite. The wasp is dragging the Spider (walking in reverse), and the legs of the spider are just catching on grasses, etc, and are lifted up, (more or less accidentally).

Once she arrives at her burrow she will take the live but paralysed spider down the hole and lay her eggs on the Spider. The larvae will hatch out, and proceed to devour the spider.


Le Loup said...

I wonder if they get funnelwebs?

catmint said...

What an amazing story, and pics, about this wasp. Thanks for fascinating post.

Red Nomad OZ said...

That's an amazing feat - 50 metres for such a small creature. Wish our politicians showed such singlemindedness and dedication!!

Happy travels!!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Le Loup
It would be nice to think they got Funnel Webs. Sort of balance of power politics in Nature, eh?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Catmint and Red Nomad Oz.
Thanks for your comments, and appreciation of the efforts the Wasp mothers go to to provision for their children.
The end result doesn't bear thinking about, but we all seem to admire dedication to a cause.